Engineering and design student insights

Student projects, placements, research and study experiences in the Faculty of Engineering & Design

Things are about to get electric

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📥  Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

Team Bath Racing Electric (TBRe) represents the University at the annual Formula Student Electric competition. We aim to become the top electric team in the UK in 2017 and to set the foundations for continued electric vehicle research and development at the University for many years to come. TBRe was founded approximately a year ago by a small group of final-year engineering students that believed in the importance of electric vehicle technology for the future of sustainable mobility. They were also crazy about racing.

From go-kart to Silverstone in 12 months

The project began with the development of an electric go-kart. Essentially, the aim was to replace the go-kart’s original petrol engine with an electric motor. The success of this project provided a hands-on working knowledge of the electrical systems and proved the feasibility of the team’s wider goal: to develop a fully electric race car in time for the 2016 Formula Student event at Silverstone.

The 12 months that followed were hectic. Time had to be split between setting up the team (i.e. recruitment, funding, sponsorships…) and the development of the car. Many sleepless nights later, the team was able to take TBRe16 to Silverstone in July. The valuable feedback obtained during the event from technical design judges will be incorporated into next year’s car, marking the beginning of a cycle of knowledge transfer that will continue for many years to come! TBRe’s successes in 2016 would not have been possible without the support given by the Faculty of Engineering & Design and Team Bath Racing (TBR) – thank you!

Watch Team Bath Racing Electric in action at Silverstone 2016


Launching our 2016/17 project

Our official 2016/17 launch on the 7th of October marked the beginning of a new era for TBRe. It was a pleasure to inaugurate our brand new build room and present our team, goals and long-term vision to over 70 enthusiastic engineering students that share our enthusiasm for racing and technology. The team has rapidly tripled in size to approximately 30 students from a range of year groups and disciplines, including a dedicated business team that will take care of finance/logistics/media and allow the technical team to focus exclusively on designing TBRe17!

Team Bath Racing Electric launch event

Team Bath Racing Electric launch event

How to get involved

It is hard to explain how thrilled we are about TBRe’s prospects for the future. With a team of highly motivated individuals and continued support from our academic and industrial partners, 2017 is set to be a game-changing year for the project. Follow our Facebook page and come visit us in 2E 1.10 (Department of Electronic & Engineering) if you want to get involved or simply learn more about the team, we look forward to meeting you!

 

Fancy playing with building physics in a ROOM?

  

📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Postgraduate

If at any point in your life, you wondered why the room is dark, why the air is not fresh, or why the speech in an auditorium sounds muffled, the answers lie within building physics.

In the mood to learn a bit about building physics? Here is a ROOM for you to play with.

Check this video of some interactive visual displays inside:

 

Ideas behind ROOM

Playing with ROOM generally follows the pattern below.

 

It encourages you to visualise the hidden parameters of building design that controls the flow of light, air, heat and sound, to use it as a source of inspiration in the process of developing a design.

 

ROOM currently covers seven topics: sunlight access, daylight access, natural ventilation, fabric heat transfer, approximation of heating demand, thermal comfort, and sound reverberation, all embeded in the context of a room.

Upcoming event

I will be discussing about ROOM and evironmental design in architectural education in the architecture research forum at University of Westminster Marylebone campus on 03 November.

 

 

Survey of attitudes to environmental design

It is a survey we are running with architecture practices and schools to understand how architects perceive environmental design and building physics. I invite you to participate and tell us your views with which ROOM will keep growing.

 

I am also more than happy to give a demo of ROOM and discuss in detail should you be interested in further engaging with the platform and my research.

(more…)

 

11 Tips for Three Minute Thesis Contenders (and anyone giving a presentation really)

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📥  Department of Chemical Engineering, Postgraduate

Author: Jemma Rowlandson, winner of the 2016 Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition.


The Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition is a fantastic idea, a great exercise in explaining your research quickly and to a non-specialist audience. It not only comes in handy when engaging the public, but also in your research career. Poster sessions, pitching for funding, and even vivas all require you to think on your feet and explain your research in a concise but informative manner. Squashing your entire PhD into three minutes however is no mean feat, and so here are some tips to get you started…

“An 80,000 word thesis would take 9 hours to present.

Their time limit... 3 minutes”

– threeminutethesis.org

Before the day:

Have a killer story

This is probably THE most important thing you can possibly do. Everyone loves a good story, so ensure your presentation has one, include a beginning, middle and end. Ensure your last sentence focuses on the take home message. This not only makes it easy for the audience to follow, but a good story is also memorable.

Check out other people’s stories

One of the most useful things I find, is looking at what other people have done before me. For the 3MT competition especially, it’s unlikely you’ve ever done anything like this before. Looking at how other people tackled the problem can be very helpful. The 3MT website has lots of fantastic examples from previous winners and finalists, and the University of Bath too has videos of their previous entrants.

Make it relatable

A good analogy helps. Your research will likely span several complex research areas. The real key to this is explaining them in a relatable way. Now this does not mean ‘dumbing down’ your research, you do not want to trivialise what you do. Instead focus on the big picture and find inventive ways to describe your research. My analogy was using Leerdammer cheese to explain adsorption of water toxins. Tricky topic, killer analogy, everyone goes home knowing what adsorption is.

Humour can work well

Humour can go down well in a presentation, and it can help make your story more memorable. However, be prepared for all outcomes. If your joke goes well allow a few seconds before continuing to let the laughter sink in. Equally be prepared for the audience to find things funny that you didn’t expect. And if your joke unfortunately does fall flat, have a back-up plan. Either have a handy one liner to make it into a joke (i.e. ‘I won’t give up my day job then!’), or confidently brush past it onto the next part of your presentation.

Practice, practice, practice

Practice by yourself, in front of other people, and especially people who do not know what your research is about. Know someone else entering the competition? Grab them as a practice partner, you can give each other advice. Multiple people in your research group entering? Great, dedicate a group meeting to presentation feedback. For this, you can never practice enough.

On the day:

Find your happy place

Before your big moment, do something that relaxes you. Don’t go in stressed. Go for a run, eat lots of chocolate, just do something you enjoy. My thing? I listen to Taylor Swift, calms the nerves and puts me in a great mood.

You are the most important thing

The most important thing about the entire presentation is YOU. Sure, you have a slide but the audience came to listen to you, and they will mostly be watching you. Your body language and your enthusiasm are all part of the presentation. So…

Smile 🙂

If you don’t find your research interesting, then why should your audience? A smile goes a long way, the audience will immediately click with you, and it will help you yourself feel more confident. Show enthusiasm for your research topic, the audience will feed off it and enjoy the whole experience a lot more.

Don’t run over time, but don’t rush!!

The three-minute time limit is very strict. Do not go over, even by a second. However, that doesn’t mean you should talk at a million miles an hour to get every tiny possible detail of your research project in. The audience just won’t follow. Instead, have a good story and tell it in good time. Plan some buffer time into your presentation, so that if you do stumble you know there’s a few seconds of leeway.

Never give up

There can only be one winner, and if it wasn’t you this time, that doesn’t mean your presentation wasn’t awesome. Heck, just having the guts to stand up there and try it is something on its own. If it wasn’t your day then don’t worry, there will always be other opportunities. The only way to improve presentation skills is to do more presentations.

But most importantly:

Have fun!

Sure the 3MT can be both stressful and nerve-wracking, but it is also a lot of fun! It is a great way to meet other researchers across the Uni, see what they’re up to, and share your own research. Enjoy the experience as much as possible and take every opportunity it throws your way 🙂

 

‘Sorry, but what is an engineer doing in supply chain..?’

  

📥  Department of Chemical Engineering, Engineering placements, Undergraduate

During the last 10 weeks at Patheon UK in Swindon, the above is probably the question I’ve been asked the most and equally struggled to answer, so hopefully as this blog progresses I’ll be able to answer, starting here.

I’m Matt, a chemical engineer, now 2½ months into my Placement in the Supply Chain Department at Patheon, and I can honestly say it’s flying by already! My role so far has involved a wide variety of things, predominantly based in Project Purchasing.

Who is Patheon?

Patheon isn’t a name that comes straight to mind when someone says Pharmaceuticals. It is, however, a global company that specialises in manufacturing and developing products for customers - a pharmaceutical contract manufacturer. This means Patheon isn’t the product owner, and without its name on products, its name isn’t ‘on the shelf’ as such. With 26 sites, 400 clients and 800 products developed & manufactured globally I’m looking forward to getting a deeper understanding of it as the year progresses.

What is supply chain?

While production is the area which directly generates revenue, engineering keep everything working, and quality control/assurance check everything is up to standard; they all rely on the supply chain department for many reasons. Supply chain is fundamentally made up of Planning, Procurement (Purchasing), Shipping and Warehouse management, which work with all the other departments to ensure everything runs smoothly, with two major KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) – OTD, On Time Delivery, and RFT, Right First Time to monitor performance.

Supply chain also has a number of other roles in tracking and reducing spending, building and managing supplier relationships and various other bits and pieces.

Settling in on placement

It turns out Swindon isn’t as bad as its reputation states. I’m living in the Old Town area with a few people also on placement here. Settling in at work has been no problem at all; everyone at Patheon has been approachable and friendly and happy to offer help at a moment’s notice. Looking forward to the next 42 weeks!!

 

Detecting plastic landmines in different environments

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📥  Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Postgraduate

Author: Carl Tholin-Chittenden, 2nd year PhD student in the Department of Electrical & Electronic Engineering and a member of the Engineering Tomography Lab (ETL).


I am working with Electrical Capacitance Tomography (ECT) which is a sensing technique mainly used in industry to non-invasively view inside objects such as pipelines or containers. I use this technology to image landmines underground and reconstruct 3D images to aid in their detection and removal.

Reconstructing a 3D image

Landmines are increasingly constructed of plastic with very few metal components. This makes detecting them with conventional techniques, such as metal detectors, very difficult. ECT is capable of detecting most types of materials not just metals. This is because it finds differences in electromagnetic properties of materials to their surroundings. A plastic or metallic object buried in soil or sand is going to produce very different signals to the ECT sensor than when there is only soil or sand under the sensor. This signal difference can then be reconstructed to produce a 3D image of the object.

The main difficulties with ECT are that it doesn’t reconstruct the objects with much precision (mainly just location and depth) and it can be drastically affected by different environments, such as wet ground which degrades the signal quality.

In order to improve the image reconstruction of ECT I spent my first year at Bath researching sensor head designs to see if by simply changing the shape and layout of the sensor head I could improve the image reconstruction. I found that by using many different shapes of electrode and by varying the electrode layout on the sensor I could drastically improve the image reconstructions.

Carl talks through his landmine detection research with Sir Bobby Charlton and Dr Manuchehr Soleimani

Carl talks through his landmine detection research with Sir Bobby Charlton

Meeting Sir Bobby Charlton

My research is funded by a charity called Find A Better Way (FABW) which fund landmine detection technology research. The charity was founded by Sir Bobby Charlton and in June 2016 he came to visit my lab to see the work that I had been doing. He was very interested in the sensor design and I showed image live reconstruction of objects buried in sand to mimic landmines. I have been an avid supporter of Manchester United since I was young, so this visit was doubly amazing for me, and to have your work validated by someone as impressive as Sir Bobby has left a lasting impression on me.

Attending the WCIPT8

In September 2016 I was asked to present my work at the 8th World Congress for Industrial Process Tomography (WCIPT8) in Foz Do Iguazu, Brazil. I met many interesting people within my field with whom I could discuss my work. This gave me many ideas to bring back and apply to my research. I presented my work on sensor design, which was well received and many people had questions about the work and the software that I had developed to go alongside it. One PhD student was even interested in collaboration as the software I had developed was very similar to what he was working on.

Coming back from the conference I dived straight back into my research using everything that I had learnt. I am currently developing novel scanning techniques to improve the image reconstruction by viewing the object underground from different angles. Next I will start to design and build a sensor head which has configurable electrode shapes and layouts (the conclusion of my first year work).

To solve the problem of different environments I also aim to investigate using conductivity data in my simulations. This will mean that I can account for the wetness of the environment I am in, because wet ground has a higher conductivity that affects the electromagnetic properties of the ground around the object.

Saving and improving lives

Hopefully by combining all of these various additions to the ECT system I can show different ways in which an ECT system can be modified to be used for landmine detection. The dream would be that one day ECT is a viable method of landmine detection and that the technology I develop will be used to save lives and improve the lives of people living in areas affected by landmines.


The University of Bath will be hosting the next world congress WCIPT9 in 2018.

 

Munich - First Impressions

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

Hi,

My name's Will Morgan and i'm one of the four Bath students studying at TUM for the upcoming semester as part of the Erasmus programme. As i'm the last one to write my blog, most of the basics have been covered by the other boys so i'll try my best to look at some other aspects of Munich but i'll start by completely contradicting myself and, like everyone else, explaining my reasons for partaking in the Erasmus programme.

Having been studying at Bath for three years ( as well as a year on placement), I have never really had the full experience of living away from home, and that was something I wanted to try before graduating. I'm from Newport in South Wales which is less than an hours drive from Bath and so every two or three weekends the prospect of a roast dinner and not having to wash my own clothes always led to me going home for a night or two. On my placement year I was working for Laing O'Rourke in Cardiff, and so lived at home so in truth i've never really been out of my comfort zone. I do, however, consider myself quite well travelled for a student and the money I saved during my placement year has allowed me the financial freedom to experience some unforgettable moments over the past two summers, most notably three weeks travelling around Italy with my girlfriend and a month in France for Euro 2016 with some friends!

So the most notable difference between my experience of Munich to Nick, Antonio and Matthew's is accommodation. Similarly to what Nick and Antonio said in their post, I found myself trawling through German student accommodation websites trying to find a room in a shared house in Munich (this is known as a Wohngemeinschaft, or abbreviated to 'WG'). Having sent over 30 messages online and received no responses, I received an email from Studentenwerk München (Munich's Student's Union) offering limited spaces for accommodation on a first-come first-served basis. As I said, I was actually looking for a place to stay when I received the email so replied within 5 minutes and now find myself in Stiftsbogen, the newest student halls to be built in Munich.

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-17-43-20 screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-17-43-30

As you can see, the room is pretty basic but it's clean and light and i'm quite happy here. The kitchen and bathroom are shared with 5 other people and they are cleaned twice a week. The biggest bonus of living here is the price: i'm only paying €300 a month, bills and internet included. It takes me just over half an hour to get to the university's main campus door to door using the U-Bahn, which is actually quicker than getting to Bath's campus from Oldfield Park. The one disappointment of the halls so far is that I haven't really met many people. I was expecting something resembling first year in Solsbury Court but the people in my flat all have their own things going on so it has been slightly disappointing on the social front. Having said that, I have only been here for two weeks and i'm sure I will meet people with similar interests sooner or later. The housing situation is much different here in Munich, where the Students' Union covers the city rather than a specific university - almost like Bath having a single union for Bath Spa and University of Bath. On top of this, once you get a place in halls you get to keep that place until you graduate. This means I am not only living with people from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU) as well as TUM, but that some people have had their room for several years.

On to my experience of the city so far - I arrived on the 1st October, two weeks before the start of lectures and three days before the end of Oktoberfest. On the day of my arrival I left my house in the UK at around 3am and the travelling left me feeling really drained. I fell asleep at 9pm, giving myself only two more days to experience the festival. I had already spoken to the boys and we'd agreed to meet up on the Monday to celebrate the final day of the celebrations, but I thought i'd head over on the Sunday on my own just to have a look round.

Oktoberfest (1)

After wandering past all the rides and having a look at all of the food on offer I thought it would be a shame not to try a beer so I sat down and ordered myself a stein. By this point it was evening and the tents were all full so the only option was to sit outside in the rain. I got talking to an English tour guide and his father who both lived in Munich, had a few more beers, and before I knew it was in a box in Hofbräuhaus with a group of welcoming Germans.

Oktoberfest (2)

I woke up the next day feeling horrific and it took me the best part of the day to drag myself out of bed. I'd planned to meet the boys at 2pm and turned up some time closer to 7pm. It's safe to say they were slightly ahead of me with the beers and it made for a very entertaining night!

With Oktoberfest done and out of the way, the past two weeks have been spent filling out paperwork, waiting in queues and getting generally frustrated at the ridiculous amount of admin associated with living in Munich as well as the course itself. Arriving two weeks before starting the semester is definitely necessary here, and i'd say i've just about got my head around the education system as a whole. Whilst it might not be too intuitive, if you can work your way around TUMs vast number of websites then you can really take a lot away from one semester here. On top of the course itself, for just €7.50 for the semester you can sign up for the basic pass at the sports centre in Olympiapark. In the centre, you can sign up for courses in pretty much every sport imaginable at no extra cost, where you get two hour lessons every week. I am also in the waiting list for German lessons - this is also completely free and seems very well structured. None of this has actually started yet so I will give an update on it all in my next post.

I want to close out this post just by saying how impressed I am with the city and how glad I am that I chose to participate in the Erasmus programme. Munich has really exceeded my expectations and is much larger than I had expected. Within the next few weeks i'm planning on going to a few football matches at the Allianz Arena, go to a few concerts (they get some great bands playing here) and also explore Bavaria a bit more. I've also got friends and family visiting over some weekends in November and can't wait to show them this city. There's so much culture in Munich, it's just a case of squeezing what I can into my short time here!

 

So that's me done for now,

Bis bald! (I think that's the right thing to say)

Will

 

Taking to the skies with Human Powered Aircraft

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📥  Department of Mechanical Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

Author: Lewis Rawlinson, leader of our Bath University Man Powered AirCraft (BUMPAC) team.


In February 2015 seven Aerospace Engineering students were tasked to design a Human Powered Aircraft from scratch. The BUMPAC team designed an innovative aircraft with rigid lift struts and modern composite structure. A year later four of the original members based their final-year engineering projects around HPAs. We came together to revive BUMPAC and continue the work started by HPA teams before us.

Inheriting a skeleton set of wings, a fuselage and a few other components, we set about redesigning and building our aircraft, which would later be christened Angel. I designed and built the drivetrain, as well as taking responsibility for all organisational, admin and logistical tasks for the team. This included dividing jobs, setting deadlines and advising the rest of the team on technical and interface aspects.

Angel’s first flight

In July we took Angel to the airfield for the BHPFC Sywell competition. After fixing damage sustained in transit and waiting for a weather window we attempted our first flight. Unfortunately there were issues with the drivetrain that prevented the propeller from getting to full speed. We anticipated this might be an issue and had already manufactured tensioning devices, but had left these off the aircraft in an attempt to save weight. We fitted our tensioning devices and made a number of adjustments to the aircraft, particularly increasing dihedral and modifying the control system interface.

On the morning of July 20th weather conditions looked perfect. With a slight headwind the team rolled the aircraft out onto the concrete apron, pointed into the wind and started pedalling and pushing hard. Angel leapt six feet into the air taking the whole team by surprise. Unfortunately she then lost a lot of airspeed causing her to stall and come crashing back down a few seconds later. Nevertheless, with this taste of success we set about fixing the damage again and making more adjustments. This time looking for more stability and easier control!

24 hours later Angel flies again

Just 24 hours later the team were back out and ready for more, but with no wind this would be a much harder effort. Lining up again on the concrete apron, pointing out towards plenty of space the props started spinning and the aircraft accelerated, very quickly running out of tarmac and bumping along the grass to a gentle stop. The team rolled her back as far as possible, lined up and went again. This time Angel accelerated more quickly, tapped onto the grass and with a pull of the stick lifted gently into the air. Alarmingly in taking off, she had rolled slightly and started turning right towards the hangars. The pilot (me) pulled off the power, touched down and rolled to a stop. Crisis averted with no damage! We put Angel away for the first time without damage. A very welcome respite.

34 seconds of flight

Throughout the next day we tinkered and rested, eagerly awaiting the evening’s flying. This time the team made their way all the way up to the end of the main runway. When the all clear was given, the props slowly started spinning up, the ground handlers started running, the front wheel lifted off the ground and a few seconds later the rear followed suit. Flying just above the ground Angel swept down the runway gracefully, eventually touching down 34 seconds later. She pulled off the runway and came to a gentle stop, caught by the ground handlers who had been following behind on bicycles. I collapsed to the floor, overwhelmed by the effort and joy of what had been achieved. Angel once again went away unharmed.

Angel's final flight

Dawn broke on the last Saturday of the competition. The controls and cg had been slightly adjusted in the hope of reducing the power requirement and making it easier to take-off. The latter was achieved arguably too successfully. With a slight headwind, Angel set off down the runway under full pilot power, climbed and rolled aggressively, and came back down with an almighty crack. The left wing tip caught the ground and tore the wing from the fuselage, shattering a handful of ribs, destroying the centre section of the wing and tearing the fuselage apart at the base of the chain tube. With that, the competition was all but over for us.

I’m proud of the incredible success that was achieved by just four passionate guys with buckets of enthusiasm. The remains of Angel were packed away and sent back to the University of Bath, in the hope that the next generation will carry her on and make her great once again.


Find out how UK universities are embracing Human Powered aircraft to promote engineering skills.

The problem of comfort in prosthetics

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📥  Department of Electronic & Electrical Engineering, Department of Mechanical Engineering, Student projects, Undergraduate

Author: Oscar Rovira (2nd year Integrated Mechanical & Electrical Engineering student).


There are thousands of amputations per year in war-torn countries due to mines. The current process of multiple castings and weeks of testing for every individual prosthetic limb has remained relatively unchanged for fifty years. This is a time consuming and costly process for a standard prosthetic (prices can range from £4000 to £40,000).

3D printing technology is developing prosthetic technology at a reduced price, but there remains comfort and reliability issues. As part of my first-year project I decided to focus on developing affordable, comfortable prosthetics. In the end, no matter how robust a prosthesis is, if it’s not comfortable to wear, then it won't be used.

Developing a prototype

Once I knew my objective, I started drawing and sketching all the ideas that came to my mind: from developing a fully 3D printed design of a robotic leg that could automatically adapt to the limb, to creating a prosthesis which could be “built” by the customer (imagine Lego pieces constructing and improving their design). After two weeks of crazy designs and research I decided that the quickest way to solve the problem of comfort was to create a tool that could analyse the stiffness of the stump at any point. This would reduce the forces that the socket applies to the hard tissue, thus reducing any soreness due to bad force distribution.

Inspired by the FitSocket from MIT, and with the objective of reducing the cost whilst maintaining reliability, I started writing all the specifications that “Rijido” (the name I gave my project) needed. Once I had all the measurements and data I spent three days doing all the CAD designs that I would later 3D print. Once all the parts were printed, I started troubleshooting with the prototype and assembly until I got a much better result. Then I used a solder to attach all the wires to the prototype and I connected an Arduino with a bit of code in order to retrieve all the data. After one month Rijido’s first prototype was born!

Seeking funding and promoting my project

I would say that there’s nothing more fulfilling than to see hard work, passion and dedication finally paying off, but that's not where the story ends. I posted my project on Instructables and I applied to a seed accelerator named Imagine to receive feedback and promote Rijido. Although I didn't receive funding from the seed accelerator in the end, I still managed to finish third out of two hundred applicants.

A prosthetist from South Carolina noticed my project on Instructables and expressed an interest in using Rijido as a tool in his practice. It was so exciting to see that my project was actually something people were already looking for. This prosthetist got in touch with the MIT Department of Biomechanics, which then contacted Arthur Petron, a postgraduate who holds the patent alongside Hugh Herr (a heavily influential person in the area of biomechanics) of FitSocket. It was amazing to talk on LinkedIn with the person (Arthur) who first inspired me. Rijido was also then selected as a finalist for the TEDxBarcelona Awards 2016.

Passion and perseverance

Fun, stress, excitement, uncertainty…I would say that the whole journey of making Rijido was a combination of these emotions. The fact that I could use 3D printers, get spare parts and work both in the mechanical and electrical workshops at any time, was the most fun part. I felt like a kid in a ball pit.

Thanks to Rijido I have learnt a host of things! In terms of technical skills, I have mastered how to use 3D printers, I have developed my skills at using turning machines, drawing, CAD modelling and project management. The project also introduced me to different business strategies. In terms of personal skills, I have gained more confidence in myself and improved my communication skills. I’ve learnt again that the combination of passion and perseverance can make any idea into reality and verified how errors and mistakes during the design process are key to producing a much better final product.

Definitely only one of the many more projects yet to come…

Find out more about Rijido.

A glimpse of Munich - Part 1: Arriving & lots of beer!

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📥  Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering, Undergraduate

CivilEngAbout Us

Guten Morgen! Let us introduce ourselves. We are Antonio and Nicklas, two final year Civil Engineering students from Bath, currently starting our ERASMUS exchange at the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Munich.

While we were originally planning on going to UEM in Madrid, due to some administrative issues, this was not an option in the end. The choice of Madrid was mainly because of the city. However, looking back, Munich is definitely the right choice, taking both the city and the academic reputation of the university into account.

So why go on ERASMUS? As we both come from outside the UK, we were both keen to go explore university life abroad somewhere else. Being on a 4-year master program, we don’t have the opportunity to do a masters somewhere else. ERASMUS provides the opportunity of doing that. It is also a great opportunity to meet students from all over the world and to learn a new language! If you aren’t willing to throw yourself out there in a new culture and place, we certainly wouldn’t recommend ERASMUS!

 

About Munich and TUM

Munich is the 3rd largest city in Germany. Located in the south eastern part, it is only train ride away from Austria. The city has a rich history which we are not going repeat here (see Wikipedia) but we will definitely tell you about some of the many attractions and museums we will be visiting. Otherwise the city is of course known for its beer and fun fact, TUM is actually the only university in the world with its own brewery!

TUM was founded in 1868 and specializes in Engineering, natural sciences and life sciences. It is currently top 50 in the world and has been advancing steadily in the rankings. It is located across 4 campuses in Munich with the department of Civil, Environmental and Geo Engineering located at the central campus. The university currently has 13 Nobel laureates and has been home to the inventors of the fridge, diesel engine and the first jet-powered aircraft.

Panorama view of Munich city center

Panorama view of Munich city center

 

Finding accommodation

If you thought finding accommodation in Bath, wait until you get to Munich! The university itself acknowledges the struggle and does not guarantee accommodation. We eventually found ours on AirBnB after trawling through lots of German rental sites. We did however leave the house hunting a bit late and only started looking in August. We highly recommend starting to look in May-June and to not underestimate the task. We have heard that there are still students looking for a permanent place.

Our accommodation is a cosy four bedroom flat located in a nice area of Munich just south of the centre right next to the Poccistrasse tube stop. We are sharing with two German students. We have everything we need in walking distance including several supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants & bars, and a laundromat. For reference, we are paying just over 700 EUR each (including all utilities and internet). University accommodation is a lot cheaper but as it is the most expensive city in Germany and because of the housing shortage, this is a realistic price if you want to live close to town. On the plus side food and other living amnesties (especially beer!) are cheaper than the UK.

 

Practical stuff on arrival

There are a few practical tasks to be completed upon arriving in Munich. First of all, you need to register with the local authorities in a Bürgerburo. This is a simple task that requires both you and your landlord to fill out separate forms. With these forms and a valid passport, you will need to go to one of the registration centres dotted around the city. Don’t worry, there is plenty of information about this on TUM’s website and during the induction talks. There are even volunteers that offer to take you there if you are feeling really uncomfortable with it. Queues at the centres are extraordinary so we would advise arriving at least half an hour before they open. Our local centre opened at 7.30 in the morning but at 6.50, there were already 40 people waiting outside and by the time the doors opened, there were over 200! You will need the confirmation of registration to open a bank account which you can do for free with most of the German banks. While you can get by without a German account, it is need for any subscription services such as gym memberships, phone contracts and internet.

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The main campus where our department is located

 

Choosing modules and induction

The great thing about TUM is that you get to choose all of your modules! Don’t worry about getting your subject list spot on when filling in your learning agreement as you get to choose again once you are registered at the university. While most of the courses are in German, there are over 150 courses available in English so there is the opportunity of studying something you wouldn’t have gotten to do at Bath. You have to register to each of the modules online and some courses have a participation limit so don’t leave this too late!

The system is not very intuitive but it works and the professors are all very keen to answer questions so e-mail them if in doubt.

Otherwise the first two weeks have been induction focussed. Theuniversity has organized events and trips every day. The events cover everything related to settling in, living in Germany and studying at TUM. The trips range from city tours all the way to day trips to Nuremburg.

The university seems incredibly welcoming to its exchange students with over 1000 inbound this year. They will continue to organise weekly events and trips throughout the year and also offer plenty of language courses. Everyone speaks very good English so don’t be afraid to come here if you don’t speak a word of German! (Antonio doesn’t!)

 

The social side of Munich

So far, the biggest social event has of course been the Oktoberfest! The Oktoberfest is an annual celebration of the greatness of beer and has its roots back in 1810 as a wedding celebration. The festival itself is located in the Theresienwiese in the centre and is a huge fairground with the main focus being the large beer “tents” (more like halls). If you are not into beer, there are plenty of rides, food stands and a good familial atmosphere. It is an event for the whole family. The beers do not mess about and come in the famous 1l mass glasses from one of the main five breweries in the city. A evening in one of the tents is quite an experience (for you and your wallet) but should be on everyone’s bucket list. Definitely worth the hangover. Be prepared to dance on the tables and speak & sing more German than you knew you could! Prost!

Other social activities have been at a minimum so far as admin tasks have taken priority so stay tuned! Though we have had time to explore the beautiful city centre and sample some of the local food which we will talk more about in our next post.

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Augustinerbräu tent - Oktoberfest

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Matthew, Nick, Antonio - representing Bath at Oktoberfest 

 

Getting around

In general, the Munich’s transportation network is very efficient and reliable (clearly not by the same companies as in Bath!) so there are plenty of ways to get around. The network consists of the U-bahn (tube), S-bahn (city train), regional trains, trams and buses so its allowed to be picky. Otherwise traffic is light and Munich is cycle friendly so walking and cycling are great ways to get around too. As part of your registration fee, you get to use your TUM student cards as a valid ticket on the whole network in a 30km radius. This is valid from 6pm to 6am on weekdays and all day weekends & bank holidays. To upgrade to a 24/7 pass costs 189 EUR for the semester and can be done at any U-bahn station.

We live about 35 minutes walking away from the main campus. To get the most out of our time here, we have chosen to buy bikes. They are easy to find and can be bought in decent quality at any flea market for as little as 50 EUR.

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Our route to campus!

 

Semester dates

One thing to keep in mind with Munich is that semester dates are slightly dissimilar to Bath. Courses start mid-October with the previous two weeks being induction. They run until the first week of February so they actually overlap with the start of second semester in Bath. Therefore, it is uncertain how and where we will take our exams as these usually taken in March. Agreements will have to be made with each professor individually but the university has been very supportive and will do the organizing for us.

 

This has been all for now. Tschüss!